I stood in a ten by eleven foot room this afternoon wailing. I hadn’t seen it coming. These sobs from deep in my belly rolled up and out. My nose ran and my eyes rained tears. Loss seemed to have multiplied in black body bags. I was surrounded by five contractor size garbage bags of my father’s life. For three hours, I pulled items from his closet, from his desk from one of his four brief cases, from his bookcase, from his stereo cabinet and from boxes stored under his desk. I salvaged more than I intended. Four boxes of record albums dating back to the late 1800’s. A suit, a shirt, two ties, for the day he might require them. A collection of tape recordings made over the past 25 years. Several touching notes and letters written to my sister and me for such day that I was doing such a heart-breaking task. My father’s relocation to the Holyoke Soldier’s Home will provide him a new start on life. He left behind the detritus for my sister and I to sort out. The visceral pain of touching the pieces of his life that he treasured most were what was most difficult. My great-grandmother’s sepia photograph wrapped in a velvet sack laid along side money from the mid to late 1800’s. It was hard to ponder what brought these items together. The batteries and pens and stationery and the stamps on letters never mailed were inventoried and sorted.
My brother-in-law and I had spent hours and hours over the weekend right here in the exact same spot. We had removed close to a ton of clutter and cast aways from the house already. I tried to stee l myself to it. I tried to apply my very exceptional skill to sort and organize like and unlike items (learned from playing hundreds of games of solitude, I am convinced) without the emotional burden of being present - while I toss an entire refrigerator filled with half-eaten food. It is not easy. Loss always seems to declare itself as I finger a book, turn over a photograph, gather up items for the Thrift Shop. Letting go, no matter who, no matter how, no matter when, is simply never easy.